National Geographic : 1999 Apr
In the spring of 1942 the code breakers cracked intercepted Japanese messages refer ring to an attack on AF, a place that Rochefort deduced to be Midway. When superiors in Washington would not accept his theory, Rochefort employed a ruse. He told Midway to transmit to Pearl Harbor radio messages about a water problem, both in clear text and in a low-level code that he knew the Japanese could read. On May 22 Japanese naval intelligence, in a message heard by U.S. interceptors, reported a water problem on AE So AF was Midway. Reporting to Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, com mander in chief of the Pacific Fleet, Rochefort predicted that the Japanese would attack the Aleutians on June 3 and Midway the next day. Although members of his staff and jittery officers in Washington warned Nimitz that the code breakers were falling for a Japanese deception operation, Nimitz used Rochefort's report as the linchpin for U.S. strategy. To fight the four Japanese carriers and their fleet, Nimitz had two seaworthy carriers-the Enterprise and the Hornet-and the battered Yorktown. She had arrived in Pearl Harbor on May 27, a stream of leaking oil spreading for miles behind her. A bomb had struck her in the Battle of the Coral Sea on May 8, holing her flight deck and exploding deep within the ship. Crewmen like Bill Surgi expected that she would be sent to the U.S. West Coast for repairs. But Nimitz ordered her readied for battle in three days. Some 1,500 yard workers clambered aboard, patched her flight deck, welded steel plates on her hull, and shored up her collapsed bulkheads with timber. The Enterprise and the Hornet left Pearl Harbor on May 28. Two days later came the Yorktown. Arrayed with their support ships in two task forces, the carriers rendezvoused on June 2 at a spot about 390 miles northeast of Midway designated "Point Luck." The name was fitting, for the outnumbered American forces would need large measures of luck to win the day. Their chances of success would be much higher if they could find the Japanese before the Japanese found them. As it happened, June 3 was their lucky day. That morning Ens. Jack Reid, piloting a PBY Catalina flying boat, was flying a search fan out of Midway. At 9 o'clock, 30 miles beyond his 700-mile search range, Reid saw what first ON ACOURSE FOR MIDWAY. LAUNCH BOMBING 6."